22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22–24, NKJV)
Secular feminists think this is sexism, male chauvinism, and bigotry. This is a gross misunderstanding and misrepresentation. The relationships of every organization or institution include roles and assignments that enable it to function successfully. Without such structure, relationships fray and falter. So it is with marriage. God-given roles in marriage accomplish their God-given purposes (Gen. 2:18-25). The husband’s role in marriage is to be a servant-leader. He is “head of the wife” like Christ is to His church. The wife’s response to his role is submission. She willingly puts herself under his leadership, not as a fearful slave to an overbearing tyrant, but as a respectful helper who respects and trusts his leadership. Husbands strengthen their marriages when they step up and become spiritual leaders in their marriages. Wives strengthen their marriages when they respect and help their husbands do so. These divine assignments are not about superiority and inferiority. They are about mutual love and respect with Christ at the center of the marital relationship. Unselfish service is at the heart of successful marriage.
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:15–17, NKJV)
God’s word teaches Christians to identify and turn away from those who promote and practice sin at every season, including the “perilous times” in which we live (2 Tim. 3:1-5; Eph. 5:8-11). Today’s passage teaches us to do good when the “ignorance of foolish men” would otherwise incite us to be unruly, unrighteous, and ungodly. In context, that includes submitting to human ordinances (that do not force us to sin, 1 Pet. 2:13-14; Acts 5:29). Being free in Christ (free from sin and death) means we are now bondservants of God and not men (Rom. 6:4-11, 16-18; 1 Cor. 7:23). Our freedom in Christ is not our license to be wicked; it is our calling to be God’s slaves (v. 16). Therefore, when evil authorities do evil things, we are to bear the image of Christ and patiently accept suffering for what is good (1 Pet. 2:18-24). For our part, we must be respectful of everyone (including rulers over us), love all our brethren, and fear God (v. 17). By doing so we silence (muzzle, give no credence to) worldly ignorance by exposing its inept, mindless, and egotistical foolishness (v. 15; 1 Cor. 3:18-23). By doing so, with God’s help, you “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:13–17, NKJV)
Christians show respectful submission to governing authorities. We don’t break the law. We do so “for the Lord’s sake” because He ordained civil authority and rules over it (Rom. 13:1-2). This is the will of God, and by doing so we silence the ignorance of foolish men (v. 15). When Christians vote, they are doing good, and our votes should advance righteousness and godliness in the land. We must obey God rather than men, but our freedom in Christ does not permit us indiscriminately to violate laws we deem improper (Acts 5:29). Instead, we obey God’s command to honor all people, including those with civil authority (v. 17). Remember, it is easy to submit to laws and honor rulers with which we agree. The test of faith is to submit to laws with which we disagree and to honor those in office for whom we did not vote.
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. (Luke 6:31, NKJV)
So said the Son of God, who was insulted, mocked, beaten, and crucified, even though He was totally without sin. He responded to His enemies with love as He spoke truth to them without fear or favor, as He wept over Jerusalem, and as He warned mourners on the way to Calvary. With a ready heart, He hung on the tree, praying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” later forgiving the criminal who asked for mercy (Lk. 23:34). All these and more show us Jesus lived the “golden rule.” Being mistreated does not give us the right to defame, mistreat, harm, or injure others. Respect for God of Father demands us to treat others as we wish others (and God) to treat us (Matt. 7:7-12). One thing we desperately need to stem the tide of disrespectful, angry, hateful, sinful treatment of others is respect for God. That will translate into respecting others. The golden rule is not about retribution, but repair. It is not about hurting others before they hurt you. It is not about dominating others; it is about caring for and helping others. The world (system of evil that opposes God) does not operate by this rule. But Christians must because it is our Father’s world and our Father’s will (Matt. 7:21, 24-27).
Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. (Proverbs 23:22, NKJV)
We join today with sons and daughters the world over as they honor their mothers. God, the giver of all good gifts, has given us the wonderful gift of mothers. Mothers are tireless givers, fierce protectors, and sacrificial sustainers of their children’s lives. Godly mothers also tend to the spiritual lives of their children. Like Eunice and Lois, the mother and grandmother of Timothy, God-fearing mothers teach their children sincere faith in Christ (2 Tim. 1:5). Sadly, not every son and daughter respects and honors the blessings of their mother’s love, devotion, and sacrifice. It is hard for us to understand why children turn their backs on their mothers, but it happens. Wise Solomon warned against despising your mother in her old age. The mother who bore you and kept you alive when you could not do so yourself may well need you to care for her one day. Be patient with your mother as she ages. Be kind to her. Show her your love. Doing so will comfort her heart and assure her of your love and respect. It will also show your respect for God, who gave us motherhood. After all, without mothers, you would not be here. None of us would. Indeed, that deserves our respect and honor—that, and so much more.
10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.” (Joshua 14:10–11, NKJV)
Even in old age, faithful Caleb was ready to wage war against the enemies of God’s people. He succeeded in occupying Hebron as his portion of the inheritance (Josh. 15:13-14). Even though our physical strength diminishes with age, there is much older men and women of faith can accomplish for the Lord. The psalmist observed that “the righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,” and “they shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing” (Psa. 92:12-14). As the COVID-19 virus is especially (although not exclusively) attacking the elderly among us, we see a refreshing concern for the elderly among us. Aged men and women are valuable, and aged Christians have work to do in the kingdom (Titus 2:2-5). Instead of discarding the aged as burdensome, Israel was commanded, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:32). They were to learn that showing respect to the older person reflects their reverence for God. If you are older, seize this time of life and be strong in faith, even as your body grows weaker. If you are younger, respect for the older generation, because God willing, you will be in their shoes one day.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1–3, NKJV)
Dr. Leonard Sax, practicing physician and author of “The Collapse of Parenting,” wrote in the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 17, 2015), “Kids are not born knowing how to be respectful. They have to be taught.” He tells of his patient Kyle, who “was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.” One source of such disrespect comes from devaluing parents. According to Dr. Sax, “America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’” Parents, train your children to respect you by being respectful to one another, and to others. Train them to honor you by placing value on God, on faith, and on every human being. Children can only be respectful by learning it. So, be respectable – especially when the culture does not value it – or you.
22 Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding. 24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. 25 Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice. (Proverbs 23:22–25, NKJV)
As we honor our mothers this Mother’s Day for their loving devotion and tender care, it saddens us to know of mothers who do not love their children, and of children who disrespect (despise) their mothers. When we were young our mothers taught us good words of truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding. A mother’s wise words of truth do not dry up as she grows older. A godly mother is a vessel from whom blessings flow into the lives of her children (2 Tim. 1:5). Far from discounting, disregarding and despising your mother, show her respect and loving regard by listening to her and by seeking her advice. Yes, you are an adult who will make your own decisions, and you should always hold to God’s truth. That is as it should be. But, shouldn’t your bond with her get stronger with age? So, honor your mother today with cards, calls and gifts – she will love that. And, honor her every day with kind words and gratitude for her undying love for you. This will lift her heart and gladden her spirit more than you know. By doing so you will be a wise child who pleases the Lord.
You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:32, NKJV)
Growing old is natural. The old were once young, and the young will become old. These things are too self-evident to warrant comment. Today’s command from the Law of Moses trained Israel to have respect for the elderly. But more than that, showing respect toward the aged is described as growing out of one’s fear of God. He is “Lord” (YHWH, Jehovah), the eternally-existing one. Ultimately, we do not have power over the aging process, He does. Being disrespectful toward an older people reflects a fundamental failure to respect God , who gives life (both young and old). So, when you come upon an older person in the grocery store who can no longer push the shopping cart as quickly as you, don’t become frustrated. When the older person is driving slower than you think he should, be patient. The “old man” should not be discounted because of his age, any more than the strength of the youth should be discounted by the aged. There is a place in this world for both. “The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head” (Proverbs 20:29). Whether young or old, we must fear God because He is timeless.
“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2, NKJV)
These words of Moses to Israel reveal a principle stated time and again in the Bible, namely, that God demands that men and women respect and follow His word by not adding to it or taking from it (Deuteronomy 12:32; Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 30:5-6; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 22:18-19). Just as it is disrespectful to put words into someone’s mouth that they did not say, it is disrespectful of God to say He approves and accepts that which takes from or adds to His word. Jesus scolded the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees for binding their religious traditions of people as if they were from God (Matthew 15:1-9). When we change the teachings of the Scriptures to suit our present desires, we are no different that they were, and we need the same rebuke. We too fall under condemnation when we reject the commandment of God to keep our traditions (Mark 7:9-13). All this comes down to how we choose to view the Bible. Is this collection of books merely the product of man’s mind and experiences? If so, then we are not bound to it by any heavenly authority. But, if the Bible was given by divine inspiration, then to change it shows great irreverence for God, who gave it (2 Timothy 3:16-17). How we view and use the Bible shows whether we respect God.